Yahoo! Soups Up Its Car Classifieds

Yahoo announced a reseller agreement Thursday with automotive retail promoter and strategist Reynolds and Reynolds that is expected to bring flurry of automotive retailers to the Yahoo Autos classified section.

The deal marks the second reseller agreement Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo Autos has signed since its inception four years ago.

The agreement draws upon Reynolds and Reynolds Automark Web Service, a listing and Web strategy service for automotive retailers looking to maximize their online exposure and sales rates.

As a result, the Yahoo name brand will more thoroughly penetrate the automotive retail market, and in turn, car retailers that fall under the Reynolds and Reynolds marketing umbrella will have a Web-based venue from which to advertise new and used vehicles to the millions of consumers that visit the Internet portal.

Reynolds and Reynolds provides management and marketing services to an estimated 90 percent of the automotive retailers and car companies in North America. The company was founded in 1866 as a small business forms manufacturer, and in 1920 was known for helping Chevrolet overtake Ford in the retail marketplace.

According to terms of the agreement, Reynolds and Reynolds’ automotive retailers will be given preferential placement in vehicle search results and will be able to post an unlimited number of used car listings in Yahoo’s upper tier classified section.

Additionally, Reynolds and Reynolds retailers will be given a Web page dedicated to their specific inventory, dealership locations, and a monthly statistical report on how well their advertisement performed.

Yahoo Autos features options for buying and selling cars, car financing, car insurance, credit report status, vehicle maintenance, and a free lemon check for used cars. The site also provides access to the Blue Book, Consumer Reports, and Edmunds.com. However the site does not enable online car purchases, but instead functions as an online connection between buyer and seller by bringing the offline classified platform online.

Ann Crady, business development manager for Yahoo Autos could not comment on the number of Reynolds and Reynolds-generated auto retailers that are expected to sign up for Yahoo services, although she said that expectations are high.

“We are trying to generate huge car sales for those who list with us, but the transaction itself will not occur on the Web site,” said Crady. “We don’t ask people to buy online. We’re just there to connect the buyer with the seller.”

To boost interest in the reseller agreement, Yahoo and Reynolds and Reynolds are launching a free trial for automobile retailers to test out the service, which would entitle prospective retailers to unlimited classified advertising and access to a customized Web site for new car listings. The trial is for a limited time only, Crady said.

J.D. Powers and Associates reported in early October that online car buying statistics continue to be high and that among the 60 percent of new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet for shopping, 88 percent visit automotive Web sites before arriving at a dealership for a test drive.

An estimated 82 percent of new-vehicle buyers visited third-party automotive sites in 2002, while 76 percent visited a manufacturer Web site and 48 percent visited dealer sites, the report said.

Research from Forester states that sixty-four percent of all buyers complete their online research in five sessions or fewer. A quarter of those sixty-four percent buy a car within three months of visiting a car site.

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